A young man has died at the scene after a stolen silver Mazda Axela crashed on Polson Street in Castlecliff, Whanganui this afternoon.

The deceased was the front side passenger of the vehicle and the driver of the vehicle escaped on foot following the crash at about 2.15pm.

Whanganui police believe the driver was a young man and their search for him is ongoing.

Anna Colman arrived at the scene after she heard a crash that "sounded like an earthquake" from her nearby home.

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"I ran outside and had a look, a lot of people were standing around screaming, which is not the thing to do.

"I ran over and took the young man's pulse, but I felt nothing. I said 'no, he's gone, he has taken his last breath."

Colman said she could not believe the driver was gone.

"It was shocking, I hope he gets caught for this.

"He should have stayed there and comforted the passenger, but no, he took off."

Colman blessed the scene of the accident and said she felt for the family that have lost a loved one.

Sergeant Colin Wright said that putting cordons in place and using a dog to capture the driver were unsuccessful.

"There were witnesses, they say that they saw a car traveling in excess of the 50km limit, it's come past the school, we don't know what speed it was travelling, it was raining, the road was wet and it has crashed into a tree.

"We're appealing for further witnesses, if anyone knows the identity or saw this silver car in the area, please contact Whanganui police."

The car was not being pursued by police at the time of the crash.